For the best possible experience on the day of your presentation, you’ll want to be prepared well ahead of time. Write a list – you ARE a writer, after all – and give yourself enough time to check off the tasks. Then it’s showtime!
Much of what you’ll want to bring on the day of your presentation will be the same as what you bring to an author fair. Start with that list for the basic items.
What you’ll need to add to the list are any items you need for your presentation. For instance, if you are doing a first person representation, you may need a costume and props. If you’re demonstrating a craft or talent, you’ll need the right materials or instruments or tools. If you are sharing slides, you’ll need a thumb drive or some other storage device.
Long before Presentation Day, you’ll want to discuss what your host can provide and what you need to bring. Some venues have computers hooked up to projectors that display on a screen. At other places, it might be up to you to bring all the equipment including a couple of extension cords. Talk it over with your host and share the decisions in an email so you both have a “paper” trail for reference.
Once you have sorted out the details, be sure to confirm everything that was discussed and shared in the email about a week before your event. Emails get deleted. Staff members leave or get reassigned. No one needs last-minute surprises.
A note about books: The whole point of doing presentations is to sell books, right? At a later date we’ll talk about school and corporate presentations specifically, but today let’s just consider an average event where you want to sell books to whoever shows up.
Like an author fair, bring enough books and have extra in the car, just in case. Request table space to set up your book display. Use your author fair checklist to make sure you have everything needed for displaying, selling and signing your books.
There is one item not on the author fair list which you really should consider and that is a sales assistant. After your presentation, people are going to want to talk with you. Some will have to explain where you went wrong while others will want to share an experience they once had that is related to your topic. And yes, some people will even tell you how much they enjoyed your presentation!
It’s super tricky to field questions, make conversation, sign books and ring up purchases all at the same time. Especially just after a nerve-wracking public speaking performance.
Your assistant can total up purchases, make change, get the correct spelling for signing book dedications and any other duties that will keep you from chatting with your fans. It’s hard to radiate warmth, intelligence and friendliness when you’re trying to handle too much.
Even after prepping with your checklist, arrive early at the venue so that you can get set up well beforehand. That gives you time to deal with last-minute emergencies and be ready to greet the early arrivals. Chatting with the audience before your presentation starts builds friendly relations so that you’re more comfortable and they’re more receptive. You may even learn something that will help you tailor your talk, if you are comfortable doing so.
After the event, stay in professional mode until you get home. Your host doesn’t need to hear your confessions or complaints – save those for your spouse or writers group. Take the time to jot a note or email right away thanking your host for the opportunity. Help them remember how pleasant you were to work with so you will be invited back.
Then give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!